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As China Association for Science and Technology was accepted as a full member of the Washington Accord this June, the engineering education of the oriental dragon is facing both opportunities and great challenges.
In a recent paper by Dr. C. Chen, in order to adapt to the requirements of the Washington Accord and improve the quality of engineering education, as a teacher of the biochemistry course - one of the main courses, large-scale teaching reforms were performed in his class to fully improve the abilities of his students. He boldly abandoned the traditional concept of Chinese education, and adopted the advanced education ideas such as expanded learning, heuristic teaching,student-centered teaching, and a series of outside-class activities to make his class totally different.
“Joining the Washington Accord is a particular important event for the entire Chinese education, especially the engineering education. While the fact is that there exist many problems inside the current education mode. Most students were ‘spoon fed’ by their teacher and couldn’t apply the theory to practice. Besides, they lacked a sufficient understanding of the engineering projects and could barely get access to the engineering practices. Reforms are necessary, and the reform attempts in the class do have borne some fruits. The experience from this research could provide useful reference and guidance to other teachers and universities”, Dr Chen said.
During the reform, Dr Chen showed a lot of industrial engineering cases which related to the course in class and guided his students by problems after problems instead of “spoon fed”. What’s more, students were forced to organize teams to give lessons to the class on the platform. The database construction was in process at the same time, through which students could browse various learning materials and learn by themselves. In addition, some participating opportunities of national competition were available for the students who showed great interests. After these targeted reforms facing the Washington Accord, students were more satisfied to this course. The class was more active, students’ abilities and their understanding of related engineering projects showed a great improvement.
The Washington Accord was first sponsored and signed by the civil societies of 6 countries—US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand—in 1989. The accord is mainly for the international qualification recognition of undergraduate engineering degree (generally four years). Accreditation decisions made by one signatory are acceptable to the other signatories. This means that the person who has graduated from any signatory should be regarded as having the academic qualification to engage in the primary engineering work by other signatories. The graduate attribute (GA) is the most important to judge whether a major can pass the accreditation. Each signatory has its own standard, but they are equivalent on certification. Joining the Washington Accord has put forward new and higher demand for the Chinese engineering education, and more positive adjustments have to be introduced to both the students and teachers as soon as possible.
Dr Chang Chen, Chen Zhao, Bingwu Wang, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China.
This work was supported by Teaching Reform Project for Higher Education of Beijing (2015-ms035), Teaching Reform Program in Undergraduate Education at Beijing University of Chemical Technology (B201418), and Higher Education Science Research Project of China Association of Higher Education.
A paper about the study appeared recently in Education Journal.